After reading and planning hiking trips all winter, I finally tore myself away from the city for a night to bag some new peaks. I decided to head up to Lafayette Campground Friday night and do a North & South Kinsman plus Cannon Mountain loop on Saturday. The 100ish site campground was entirely empty when I arrived so I picked out a choice spot on the little river that runs through it. This is a top campsite for access to trails, with many that start here. Its open year round but they don’t turn the water on until May 19th or 20th so before that its pretty deserted. If you can handle the cold, might be fun to ski/ride Cannon and stay here.
Due to a chance of rain and shivering to death all night by the river in new untested gear, I decided to cut my aspired 16 mile trek down the morning of and I started on Lonesome Lake Trail instead of Pemi Trail to Cascade Basin. I’ve heard Lonesome Lake is an extremely popular destination for day hikers and I can see why. A quick 1.2 mile trudge uphill to a great lake loop doable for small kids and fat people.
After barebooting to and around the Lake, the new Kahtoola Micro-Spikes went on and I began up past the Lonesome Lake Lodge and the onto the Fishin Jimmy Trail, a two mile path to Kinsman Pond. The gray skies didn’t make for a particularly scenic day on the lake, but the Fishin Jimmy Trail more than made up for that.
The trail was about 90% snow with a soft but stable monorail. The first mile was gorgeous and easy and the sun came and stayed out almost the whole time. The trail is peppered with small runoff waterfalls and streams, some are entirely invisible and run under snow bridges under the trail.
For my first time hiking on snow, I was surprised at how fun it was. With micro spikes, my Black Diamond poles, the sun, and pockets of cool air, it made for a beautiful steady hike and made me regret waiting this long to come hit some peaks. Its a lot slower than my normal pace, but the trade off is it’s slightly lower impact and my feet in my old Zamberlans were happy about that. Its also slightly more challenging in steep icy parts. But the best part? NO DAMN CROWDS, I’m sure this is a popular area come summer and fall but I only walked past two people until I got to the summit of North Kinsman.
The second half of the trail, is considerably steeper than the first but opens up a bit in spots and lets the sun in. Also there’s a view about 4/5ths of the way up. Honestly I didn’t want this trail to end as every turn revealed an awesome new stretch with either a view, a waterfall, or a cool cliff to scramble.
Finally I came to the trail intersection and took a left to Kinsman Pond and it’s Shelter, an impressive log cabin structure that could probably fit about twelve. I trudged down to the Pond, sat on a rock, and busted out my Buff Chix sub and crushed it in the afternoon sun. For such a beautiful place the solitude was puzzling but enjoyable. A completely epic lunch break.
From the Pond the North Kinsman summit is less than a half mile which is quick. I shared a quick break on the summit with a group of guys and their awesome dogs including a Black Bear sized 140 lb Newfoundland and a friendly Golden. The mile long trip to South Kinsman wasn’t too exciting and the snow was softer and I finally started postholing here.
At the top of South Kinsman I broke out my victory cigar (A Backwoods ironically) and took a rest. The views were good but impeded by clouds and rain storms moving my way so I decided not to hang out and headed back to North Kinsman. Back at North Kinsman I decided to hit up the short bush whack to a ledge with vistas of Kinsman Pond. This was the best spot for views of the trip. If you know the name of this ledge I’d be much obliged.
The walk back down consisted of a failed attempt around Kinsman Pond to the Cascade Trail. Too much deep snow, almost 2 feet worth with no tracks or rail. Not a fan of In & Outs when there are loop options (even horrible long ones) but secretly I was hoping to do Fishin Jimmy Trail again anyways.
About a half mile down it, I came across a poor train wreck of a hiker with no poles, no spikes, bad boots, bleeding profusely from his hand, and struggling to make it up the steepest scramble of the trail. Bewildered, I made sure he wasn’t going to the summit as I gave him some Band Aids and told him how “hardcore” he was as he clawed his way up and told him GOOD LUCK on the way down, its slippery. He jokingly asked me if I had any extra ski poles. I get that a lot and I’ve only used them four times so far…
The quote of the trip is “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” and this guy hammered that line home. I met a few others without poles and spikes shortly after. These people were clearly equipped as experienced hikers. I guess I just don’t get it why people risk NOT using poles at least, let alone spikes. Personally I think its stupid and reckless and I’m pretty reckless myself. The point is to get to the summit and back, not see how many times you can slip and fall without breaking something.
Most of the way down was boot skiing. I didn’t like doing this to the rail but it was so steep, soft, and slick there was no safer options. At Lonesome Lake I decided to go the long way Around Lonesome Lake Trail which was nice. Then back to pack up camp and get a missed call that cost me a free seat at the most amazing Celtics Playoff game of the season by about a half hour. (The Rondo Arm Buster) For the record I made it back to Boston in exactly two hours.
The Things I Learned, Did Wrong, or Did Right List:
- My gear obsession pays off when I do get out.
- Always bring a first aid kit stupid hiker noob guy!
- Trekking Poles are amazing but without snow baskets in the winter they are a pain in the postholing ass.
- STOP SLEEPING SO CLOSE TO RIVERS IN SPRING AND FALL!
- DON’T SLEEP IN JUST YOUR BOXERS NEXT TO A RIVER IN SPRING AND FALL!
- PISS BEFORE BED after you drink a 6 pack, especially when you are sleeping near a cold ass river in your effing boxers… (Aka use some common sense.)
- Don’t drink a 6 pack the night before a hike! Oops!
- TrailsNH.com is a glorious thing. Use it.
- Always have an easier back up route in case of rain or lapse of judgement.
- Don’t test more than a few pieces of gear in a single trip.
- When you do a trip, don’t wait 3 months to finish/post the damn trip report!
- Double Vestibule is French for “drafty ass tent”. Dress accordingly.
- Micro Spikes in spring snow are a must. Cough up the dough for KahToolahs.
- Keep your watch nearby so you don’t oversleep and blame it on the fact you thought it was 2 hours earlier based on the sun that was behind a 5500 foot mountain.
- When coming from the south to Lafayette in the offseason, get firewood in advance at Lincoln or Woodstock on your way in or it turns into a production.
Total Vert: ~3200
Sound Track: Born of Osiris – The Discovery | J-Dilla – Donuts | The Contortionist – Exoplanet
Nearby attractions: Lincoln, NH – Good cafes and some good restaurants. Canon Mountain.
New Gear Testing: Kahtoola Micro Spikes, ALPS Mountaineering Chaos 2 Tent, Outdoor Research Revel Jacket